Day 34

rat a tat

Tonight I instituted No Screen Monday as a new tradition in our house. This means that at 6pm on Mondays all screens – TVs, phones, lap tops, iPads etc – have to be turned off. No exceptions.

I came up with the plan because my daughter has been having a few problems concentrating at school, which has led to fooling about in class, missed homework and other detention-gathering misdemeanours.

I’ve come to the conclusion that buying her an iPhone 5 as a reward at the end of her first year in high school back in July wasn’t the greatest idea.

I find it hard to put mine down – what’s it going to do to a 12 year old’s brain?

So the phone has been put in quarantine, but it still didn’t seem like enough and my husband agreed to give a no screens evening a go.

The other thing that inspired the idea was remembering the winter of 1972 when a series of miners’ strikes led to weeks of power cuts in the darkest nights of February.

It was one of the happiest times of my whole life. Instead of hanging out in our bedrooms (I’m the youngest of four), or gawping in front of the telly, we all sat round the open fire in the sitting room, which was lit by oil lamps, and played games.

Night after night it went on and I never tired of it. I was exactly the age she is now.

Our first No Screen Monday was an unmitigated success. Sitting by our cosy log burner, we played our favourite picture card game Rat-a-Tat-Cat, which involves a certain amount of card remembering and cunning.

Then we played a crossword puzzle game, which Peggy hated, although she made some of the best words.

Finally we moved on to the family favourite, the finest of card games: Shit Head. Which until very recently Peggy thought was called Oh, Bother!

How we laughed.

It was so much more fun than our usual Monday nights with dad in the sitting room watching sport, or a docco about something appalling happening somewhere very far away or a very long time ago, Peggy videoing herself dancing in the hallway, and me in my study (door open) hooked to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, blogs, shopping sites and emails.

It wasn’t all easy. I thought of a really funny Tweet (I thought it was funny, anyway) and couldn’t go and post it. I wanted to check my train times and the weather for tomorrow. Peggy wanted to watch the video of her Uncle Nick (see yesterday’s post) on YouTube. But we held firm.

Then dad discovered that there was a football match on – and not just any football match, Man U vs Barcelona. I caved in. It is his job to watch football, after all.

But Peggy was fine about it. She did some sewing, some point shoe prep and some piano noodling and song making upping and then I read to her in bed, which soon turned instead into singing songs from favourite musicals, which caused Peggy to say: ‘Can you turn off the book now?’

Dad then came and joined in and we ended the day feeling as close as a family can feel.

In other news today, my brother sold his Magic Carpet (barn find) for £100.